|Instead it is thrilling to me to see it by walking two blocks from my house. A lot of launches are much more exciting then others and this one was not one of the better ones. It depends on the trajectory and the haze. The flower beds at the Ritz which I pass as I walk to the beach are a nice show. The parking lot was full when I arrived with others wanting to witness history.|
|If it heads Northeast we get a pretty good view especially if it gets high enough to catch the sun's rays. This time it disappeared shortly after this shot was taken. I miss some friends, Jim and Carol Lindeman, who used to camp here and were involved in the space program in its infancy. Jim was one of the few engineers working during those formative years, retiring about the time the shuttle program came to be. I loved hearing his stories about that time.|
|Even though the launch was less then spectacular other airborne creatures, who gave man the idea that flying was possible, were putting on quite a show for me.|
|I had a chance at the end of the week to run down to the Marina and since I figured everyone was tired of Shrimpboat shots I decided to move more to the North and try for some shots of the Pelicans. Sometimes every post is claimed by a bird but tonight only one Pelican was there. As he preened and prepared for the night on his perch I moved into position to let him become the featured star in my next feature shot. We were all alone so time for a little creative fun.|
|He seems to be
saying, "Not enough time today? Here let me hold it back for
a while, so you can catch up."
Who says you can't stop time. My Pelican friend says he has everything under control. Its almost like Bruce's saying, "I'm going to live forever. So far so good."
|The friend, Doug, who had shared his Bald Eagle nest last week offered me another adventure I couldn't resist. We quickly, after checking the weather, put together a kayak trip for my day off on Monday. He couldn't believe that I had never heard of Ickitucknee Spring after living in Florida for 10 years. After all it is part of the State Park system. With the bribe of "I will steer and paddle and all you will have to do is shoot pictures" I said "count me in".|
|We each rounded up a few friends and headed out at the ungodly hour of 6am on Monday morning. I don't even get out that early for my Sea Turtles. I invite you to jump in the kayak with Doug and me and tag along as we float down the Ickitucknee Spring River. It is located in N. Central Florida near Gainesville, home of the either beloved or hated Florida Gators. There were not Gators, reptile or human, in these waters with temperatures in the 70's it was too cold. The waters of the Icky are fed by freshwater springs with water which has traveled via the Aquifer from lands north, water that has spent many hundreds of years traveling to get there.|
|This rare water plant needs the clean water of a spring to survive. For now this beautiful Flower "Spring-run Spider Lily" bloomed all along our kayak route. We spent a lot of time trying to capture the best photo possible but each one seemed more beautiful then the last one. They look very much like our land variety Spider Lily.|
|Overhead, Spring was getting launched with Redbuds, Maple blooms and bare limbs with just the tiny early bits of green starting to show on them. The Cypress were totally bare and the grasses in the water's edge were in their early stages of growth, giving us a wonderful view of the Cypress knees all along the water's edge. Our fearless guide informed us that as summer passes, by Fall those water plants will be 6 foot high. I think that Spring must be the best time because the higher grass would block a lot of the view we were seeing.|
|During the summer season the
river is clogged with hundreds of tubing enthusiasts. Those
of you who remember this from college days at the University, it is now
alcohol, plastic bottle, snack debris, and "Pot" free.
Much money, time, and volunteer efforts went into cleaning up all the
mess left from those times and now rules are in place to prevent
another round of garbage from being left there.
The shedding Redbud trees were making a carpet of lavender on top of the green Duck Weed underneath.
|The underwater plants were swaying beneath us, seeming to tell us the way as we both followed the flow of the stream. The spots of clear white sand allowing us to realize just how clear this water was. Fish and turtles swam underneath us. This pure clean water has been crystal clear for all this time but change is happening and it may become clogged with slimy algae like many of its neighboring spring fed rivers. It is being polluted by fertilizers that people feel they must put on their lawns, golf courses, and crops. The sandy soil here quickly leaches these chemicals through and into the water causing algae to grow and gradually clog the river with stringy yucky algae. These same fertilizers are also polluting the Gulf coast causing more damage to wildlife, including dolphins, by causing algae growth and red tides to form depleting the oxygen in the water and allowing all kinds of bad things to thrive.|
|The area here reminded me of my hometown area in Northeast Tennessee which also has a large deposit of Limestone and lots of underground caves. The difference is that being so high above sea level those caves are not filled with water. This was the first time I have seen these little wood's Violets since I left North Georgia. I have told people that we don't have rocks in Florida but I was mistaken. Here there are rocks the underneath surface is honeycombed with them.|
|Roots showed off interesting formations as they reached for the water, in, around, and through the rocky surfaces.|
|There is not a real need to paddle only steer as the current moves you at a nice easy pace. The rocks in this part of Florida are a porous limestone whose holes resemble a sponge. The limestone is eroded away leaving great water filled caverns underneath the earth. Depletion of the water table will often cause a sinkhole to form when it collapses without the support of the water volume inside. This can happen with overuse of the water from the Aquifer.|
|I Love the play of the bright sunlight on the spring green against the dark shape of the tree limb.|
|As we continue on down the river, many springs fed into it causing the river to grow in volume and width. As it flattened out we had more grassy areas where the trees were not so dense, and birds became more easily seen along the water's edge.|
|These branches seem to be sitting on a dense second set of roots at the water level. Hungry also for the water provided by the pure stream.|
|Another Spring bubbles to the surface, further feeding water into the stream increasing the volume. These pieces of wood look like mythical animals guarding the entrance to the underground cavern from which the water flows.|
|Pretty spots of nature are found at every turn of the stream. Our trusty river guide points out all the spring heads and interesting features he doesn't want us to miss. I felt like the Queen of the Nile with my own personal paddler to row me along giving me the freedom to shoot to my heart's content, even paddling me in position for special shots. Wow, what luxury.|
|Tiny white Eel Weed blooms on the surface at many places.|
|This pretty elegant fellow sat very still as we floated and snapped our way by. I thought he would stay in place giving our next boat a chance to get close-ups of him also but...|
|...in a blue blur he was gone.|
|He turned up on the other side of the stream trying to make like a weed so we wouldn't see him.|
Overhead a Vulture soared and I did not remember those white wings on ours. If this is a different species then I am sure my birding friends will help me out here. Ahead more interesting things to explore as we lazily floated along taking it all in. Doug was able, with his knowledge of the place, to tell us what would be ahead and why this or that is like it is. It is nice to have someone along with this kind of input so that you don't just go ahead blindly missing some of the important spots, which sometimes meant paddling against the current. Our thanks to our fearless leader for including us all in his play day in what proved to be one great playground.
...more to come on the Icky as the kayak trip continues...